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Chances Are Not Taken For Granted

The Fifth Round of the World Cup is a very important stage, not only for money and prestige, but also because of future championship prospects: all players who advance to the Quarterfinals also get invitations to the next FIDE Grand Prix. Competition was fierce and furious – no less than six out of eight winners were determined on tie-break! The only two players who prevailed in classical chess were the American Sam Shankland and the Indian Santosh Vidit.

Shankland defeated Peter Svidler. A couple of years ago these players, being the reigning champions of USA and Russia at the time, met in a match that was the main event of a chess festival in Hoogeveen. I participated in a side event and saw everything myself: Sam quickly took the lead, but it was a long match, and Svidler managed to turn the tables. In Sochi, however, the first decisive game sealed the deal.

Shankland-Svidler

King's Indian Defense


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4

A move-of-all-trades of the 21st century! It is not by a chance our favorite neural networks love to take care of their rooks as early as possible! With this move White wants to discourage the Gruenfeld defense and get a favorable version of the Averbakh variation of the King's Indian. For example, in 3...h5 4.Nc3 d5 5.Bg5, the inclusion of h4 h5 is clearly not good for Black. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's idea of switching to a Benko Gambit was long considered the strongest, but recently the grandmaster from St. Petersburg suffered a heavy defeat in this variation: 3...c5 4.d5 b5 5.cхb5 a6 6.e3 Bg7 7.Nc3 0–0 8.a4 Bb7 9.Nf3 e6 10.dхe6 fхe6 11.Qd6! aхb5 12.Bхb5 Ne4? (developing the queen's knight by 12...Na6!? is more advisable) 13.Nхe4 Bхe4 14.h5 Qf6 15.h6 Bh8, and the black king suddenly finds himself in a mating net: 16.Rh4! Bхf3 17.Rf4 Qd8 18.Bхd7! 1-0 Rapport-Svidler, Paris 2021.

3…Bg7 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 Nc6

Peter Veniaminovich recalled his youth and went for a King's Indian, but with an up-to-date preparation. In other lines White can easily follow the trademark plan of Yury Averbakh: 5...c5 6.d5 e6 7.Be2 eхd5 8.eхd5, 5...h5 6.Be2; 5...Nbd7 6.Be2 or 5...0–0 6.Be2 with the idea to play h4-h5 or occupy the g5-square.

6.Nge2

Hold the line! If White takes the bait: 6.d5 Ne5 7.Be2 c6, Black can easily explode the center in the subsequent game. Therefore, the American chooses a Saemisch-inspired set-up, albeit with a weakened g3-square due to an early h2-h4 advance.

6...0–0

The battle between two contemporary classics saw Black trying to put pressure on White's weaknesses at once: 6...Nh5!? 7.Bg5 0–0 8.Qd2 f6 9.Be3 f5 Grischuk-Vachier-Lagrave, Paris 2019, but White can continue 10.0–0–0!? e5 11.d5 Ne7 12.f3. Svidler demands even more, therefore he quickly sacrifices a pawn and then another one!

7.f3 e5 8.d5


8…Nd4! 9.Be3

Naturally, not 9.Nхd4? eхd4 10.Qхd4 Nхe4 11.Qхe4 Re8, and Black wins. The move in the game forces Black to decide the fate of his knight, and taking on e2 does not look appealing at all.

9...c5 10.dхc6 bхc6 11.Nхd4 eхd4 12.Bхd4 Rb8

Black has a number of interesting ideas of developing the initiative: 12...c5 13.Bf2 Nh5 or 12...d5 13.cхd5 cхd5 14.eхd5 (14.e5 Nh5) 14...Qc7 15.Qd2 Bb7, but the Russian chooses the most aggressive one: he tries to force White to castle long in order to launch a direct attack.

13.Qc2 c5 14.Bf2 Be6

Perhaps Black was unsure about 14...Nh5 15.0–0–0 (his idea transpires after 15.g4 Qf6! 16.gхh5 Qхf3 17.Bg2 Rхb2!) 15...Qa5 16.Be1!?, and White is quite solid. Peter Svidler focuses his forces on the white king, and he does not care about losing a pawn on d6 in process.

15.0–0–0 Nd7 16.Rхd6

White can play more carefully by 16.b3 or 16.f4, but, to Samuel's credit, he is also eager to fight!

16...Qa5 17.Be1 Ne5


18.f4!?

White is desperately fighting for the initiative! Shankland rejects 18.b3 Rfd8 19.Rхd8+ Rхd8 20.Bd2 (20.Be2 Nc6) 20...Rхd2!? 21.Qхd2 Nхf3 22.gхf3 Bхc3, where Black has long term initiative for the sacrificed material. He returns both pawns, but blocks the sniper on g7 and begins to look into the black king's direction.

18...Nхc4 19.Bхc4 Bхc4 20.e5 Rfd8 21.Rхd8+

The machine prefers 21.a3!? Rхd6 22.Ne4, and it makes me want to take my hat off out of respect for its imagination.

21...Rхd8 22.h5 Bхa2 23.hхg6 hхg6 24.Ne4


Where the black queen should go? 24...Qc7 is refuted easily by 25.b3. There are three more squares to go, but one of them contains a landmine.
24...Qb5! is the strongest. After 25.Nd6 (25.Bh4 Rd4 26.Nf6+ Кf8) 25...Qa6 26.Qхc5 (26.Rh3 Be6 27.Ra3 Qc6) 26...Be6 Black has a good game. Another playable option is 24...Qa6 25.Bh4 Rc8 26.Nf6+ Кf8. The most important thing is to avoid a fork!

24…Qb6? 25.Bh4 Rd4 26.Nf6+ Кf8 27.Bf2!

Alas, there is no defense for Black – he cannot remain in the game even by giving away material: 27...Bb3 28.Bхd4 Bхc2 29.Bхc5+ Qхc5 30.Nd7+, 27...Rc4 28.Nd7.

27…Bхf6 28.eхf6 Qхf6 29.Qхc5+ Rd6 30.Qc8+

Black resigns, in view of 30…Кe7 31.Bh4 и 30...Rd8 31.Rh8+ Qхh8 32.Qхd8+ Кg7 33.Bd4+. What a brilliant battle, and how abruptly and tragically it ended!

Durarbayli-Vidit

Ruy Lopez


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5

The Yurtaev variation is alive and remains a robust weapon for many strong players.

7.a4

I still remember 7.c3 d6 8.d4 Bb6 9.a4 Rb8 10.aхb5 aхb5 11.Na3 0–0 12.Nхb5 Bg4 13.Bc2 eхd4 14.Nbхd4 Nхd4 15.cхd4 Bхf3 16.gхf3 Nh5 17.Кh1 Qf6 18.Be3 c5 19.e5 Karjakin-Carlsen, New York 2016 – and Sergey, who had the initiative during that stage of the match, continued testing Magnus for a long time. Vasif chooses a popular alternative, but runs into a significant improvement for Black.

7...Rb8 8.Nхe5 Nхe5 9.d4 Bхd4 10.Qхd4 d6 11.Bf4

11.f4 Nc6 12.Qc3 Ne7 13.aхb5 aхb5 14.e5 Ne4 15.Qe1 Nc5 16.Ba2 Bf5 or 16...0-0 is a good alternative, but White opts for a variation from the recent Svidler-Aronian game.

11...c5 12.Qe3

Yet another branch is 12.Qd2 c4 13.Ba2 Be6. By the way, in this line Black cannot immediately trade one of White's bishops.

12...c4 13.Ba2


White relies on the bishop pair and the pressure on the d6-pawn, while Black wants to play against the a2-bishop. A couple of recent games on the topic: 13...0–0 14.Nc3 b4 15.Ne2 Qc7, Svidler-Aronian, Paris 2021, and 15...Be6, Kulaots-Narayanan, Stockholm 2018. I guess Durarbayli had some improvement in mind, but Vidit demonstrates his homework first.

13…Nh5!? 14.Nc3

Trading in the center by 14.Bхe5 dхe5 is not attractive for White, as it forces him to come up with another plan.

14...Nхf4 15.Qхf4 0–0 16.aхb5 aхb5 17.Rad1 Be6 18.Bb1?!

A mere human always feels insecure with the bishop blocked out of play, but the computer remains optimistic: 18.b4!? Qb6 19.Bb1 Rfd8 20.Nd5 followed by с2-с3. This will probably be tested in future games.

18...b4 19.Ne2

19.Nd5 Bхd5 20.Rхd5 Qc7 does not look great, and Vasif tries to free his favorite Spanish bishop in a different way.

19...Qb6


20.h3?

I can't help showing another brilliance of the multiocular chess calculator: 20.Qd2! Bg4 21.Кh1 c3 22.bхc3 Nc4 23.Qe1 bхc3 24.f3 Be6 25.Rg1!!, and White comes off clear. I guess if our arbiters saw something like this in the game, they would have to scan the players again.

Now the Indian player manages to trap the mammoth, following the footsteps of our predecessors.

20...c3! 21.bхc3

Naturally, White objects to 21.b3 Rfd8.

21...Bc4 22.Rfe1 Bхe2 23.Rхe2 bхc3 24.Ree1

Attacking the с3-pawn does not work, as after 24.Re3 Qa5 25.Qg3 Qa1 the unfortunate bishop perishes.

24...Ra8 25.Qg3 Rfc8 26.Кh2 Ra3

The computer also takes care of the back rank: 26...Qb8!! 27.f4 Nc4 with complete dominance (28.Qхc3? Nb2).

27.Re3

27.f4 is more tenacious: 27...Nc4 28.Rd3 or 27...Ng6 28.Qg4! Rb8 29.Qg3!?, but we should probably pay less attention to the lines suggested by the powerful computer and evaluate the resulting positions as weaker but creative human beings.

Meanwhile, Black's grip is getting firmer, the bishop on b1 is doomed, and the champion of Azerbaijan goes for a desperate raid: better die standing than live kneeling!

27...Qb4 28.f4 Nc4 29.Qg4 Rb8 30.Rg3 g6 31.f5

31.e5 leads nowhere: 31...dхe5 32.fхe5 Nхe5.

31...Nd2 32.Qf4


32…Qd4!

White's last trap is 32...Nхb1?? 33.Qh6. Now Santosh Vidit centralizes the queen, finally takes the bishop, and advances to the Quarterfinal!

33.fхg6 hхg6 34.Rg5 Ra1 35.Rd5 Qхe4 36.Qхd6 Raхb1 37.Rd4 Qe6 38.Qc7 Qb6 White resigns.

Of all matches that ended 1-1, one stood out: Tabatabaei-Martirosyan. The Armenian grandmaster won the first game with such confidence that the commentator of the Russian broadcast grandmaster Sergey Shipov predicted him a spot in the Final. In the return game, Martirosyan was getting closer and closer to the desired result, but made a step in a wrong direction when a draw was already at sight.

Martirosyan-Tabatabaei


Black stands more actively, but how can he break through? After 57...d3+ 58.Кd1 White has a fortress. Amin tries his last chance.

57...Nf3 58.Nхf3??

It's not by a chance the endgame manuals by Alexander Panchenko, Mark Dvoretsky, Mikhail Shereshevsky, Jacob Aagard, Carsten Mueller and other famous authors cover the transition to a pawn ending so extensively. This is such a tricky subject! After 58.Nc4 or 58.Кd1 the game is still a draw, but Hayk fails to calculate a direct line to the end. Now the black king marches to g2, but White can run with his g-pawn, can't he?

58...gхf3+ 59.Кd2 d3 60.Кe1 Кe5 61.Кd1 Кf5 62.Кd2 Кg4 63.Кd1 Кh3 64.Кe1

This is necessary, as 64.Кd2 is even worse – 64...Кg2 65.g4 (65.Кe1 d2+ 66.Кхd2 Кхf2 67.g4 Кg2 68.g5 f2 69.g6 f1Q) 65...Кхf2 66.g5 Кg1 67.g6 f2 68.g7 f1Q 69.g8Q+ Qg2+ and Black wins.
Now it seems that White promotes his queen in time, but...

64...Кg2


65.g4 d2+ 66.Кхd2 Кхf2 67.g5 Кg1! The only move, and certainly not to g2. After 68.g6 f2 69.g7 f1Q 70.g8Q+ Qg2+ 71.Qхg2+ Кхg2 the resulting pawn ending is lost for White, therefore he resigned.

Such chances is not something you take for granted! Having received such a gift, Amin Tabatabaei improved his play dramatically, and defeated the famous master of speed chess on tie-break.

Tabatabaei-Martirosyan


35.e6! h6

After 35...Bхe6 36.Qe5 Rd6 37.Re3 Black cannot save his king without heavy losses: 37…Qa7 (37...h6 38.Rg3+ Кh7 39.Bg6+ Кg8 40.Bхf5+ and White wins) 38.Кh2 Qd4 39.Qхd4 Rхd4 40.Rхe6 Rхf4 41.Bf3, and an extra bishop will tell eventually.

36.Qe5 Rd5 37.Qb8+ Кg7 38.Qe8!

38.Re3 is also strong, but Tabatabaei finds a solution that is both forcing and safe. After the exchange of queens, blocking White's passed pawn should cost Black an exchange.

38...Qхe8 39.Bхe8 Кf8

After 39...Rd8 40.Bc6 the pawn cannot be stopped.

40.Bc6 Кe7 41.Bхd5 Bхd5 42.Re5 Bc4

42...Bхa2 does not work either due to 43.Rхb5 Bхe6 44.Rхa5. White is completely winning. Hayk, however, keeps fighting to the last bullet, like they do in good action movies.

43.Кf2 h5 44.g3 a4 45.a3 b4 46.aхb4 a3 47.Ra5 a2 48.Кe3

The king's march brings White decisive material gains.

48…Кхe6 49.Кd4 Bb3 50.Кc5 Кd7 51.Ra7+ Кc8 52.b5 Кb8 53.b6 Bf7

Nobody cares about this bishop.

54.Кd6 Кc8 55.Кe5 Bc4 56.Кхf5 Кb8 57.Кf6 Black resigns.

The first game of a duel between Alexander Grischuk and Jan-Krzysztof Duda ended in favor of the Polish grandmaster. Duda's trainer, grandmaster Kamil Miton, said on facebook that one needs a lot of energy to defeat such a brilliant player as Grischuk, and posted a photo revealing where all this energy comes from: fast food from McDonalds!

Duda-Grischuk


The white queen got stuck on a rim, and his king is not secure. Black has a way to utilize it and bring a win home, but it is very hard to find, especially when you only have a few seconds left on the clock. After 44...h4! 45.d4 (45.Ne7+ Кh7 46.g6+ Кh8 47.Rf8+ Bg8 or 45.Rf4 Bхf5 46.eхf5 Ra1) 45...h3+ 46.Rхh3 (46.Кхh3 Rh1+) 46...Qхe4+ White is helpless.
Grischuk plays 44...Ra1?, and White quickly strikes back:

45.d4! Rхa3 46.Ne7+?!

46.dхe5 Rхa4 47.g6 is more precise.

46...Кh7 47.dхe5 Rхf3 (47...Rхa4!?) 48.Rхf3 Rb4?!

Now White has a chance to coordinate his rook, knight, and pawns, creating dangerous threats to the black king. Only 48...Bg4! allowed the Russian grandmaster to keep an edge.

49.g6+ Кh6 50.Nf5+ Кхg6

Of course, not 50...Bхf5 51.eхf5, and the white passed pawns are unstoppable.

51.Rg3+ Кf7 52.Rхg7+ Кf8 53.Rg6 Bf7 54.Rf6 Rb6

The only move, as 54...Rхe4 55.Nh6 loses a piece. Despite all simplifications, the endgame remains very complicated, especially considering the clock situation.

55.Кf3 Rхf6 56.eхf6 Be8 57.e5 Кf7 58.Кf4


58…Bхa4?!

58...h4 guaranteed safety – after 59.Nхh4 Bхa4 the white knight must deal with the a-pawn and cannot take a more ambitious path instead.

59.Nh6+ Кe6?

After 59...Кf8 60.e6 Bхc2 61.f7 (61.Кe5 Bg6) 61...Bg6 62.Кg5 Bхf7 63.eхf7 a4 64.Кg6 a3 65.Ng8 a2 66.Nf6 a1Q 67.Nh7+ Кe7 68.f8Q+ Кe6 Black needs to hold a draw against the queen and a knight, which should not be too difficult for a player of Grischuk's caliber. However, Grischuk makes another mistake after which he is no longer in time to promote.

60.f7 Кe7 61.e6 Be8

61...h4 leads to a checkmate: 62.Кe5 Bхc2 63.Ng8+ Кf8 64.Кf6.

62.Nf5+ Кf8 63.fхe8Q+ Кхe8 64.Кe5 Black resigns.

Alexander pushed hard in the second rapid game, but once again he was unlucky in a time scramble, and Jan-Krzysztof held a draw, thus advancing to the Quarterfinal.

Soon after this the Russian chess fans finally received good news: Vladimir Fedoseev overcame Velimir Ivic. In the interview with Vladimir Barsky, Fedoseev mentioned that he has known Ivic for many years (back in 2018, Ivic, rated only 2470 at the time, gave the more famous opponent a good fight) and knows what an incredibly talented player he is. Prior to the World Cup, Fedoseev took part in an open tournament in Belgrade, where he had another chance to see Ivic in action. According to the Petersburger, Velimir clearly has the potential to break the 2700 mark.

In this match, Velimir was constantly very low on time and, despite having good positions, was unable to solve all Fedoseev's riddles successfully and broke in the end.

Ivic-Fedoseev


Following a loss in the first game, the young Serb developed a dangerous attack in the second one.

26.d4! eхd4

After 26...gхf5 27.Rхc3 Qd6 28.Nхf5 the black king is in trouble.

27.Nхd4 Qc4 28.Ngf5!

Note that despite having only a few seconds left on the clock, Ivic rejects the quiet 28.Nge2!? and makes a stronger move, which leads to a more complicated game.

28...Bхf5?

After 28...gхf5 29.Nхe6 Qхe6 (29...fхe6 30.eхf5) 30.eхf5 the а8-rook is under attack, so perhaps it makes sense to move it away immediately – 28...Re8, hoping to slow the opponent down with exchanges: 29.Rхc3 Qa4 30.Rхc7 Bхf5 31.Nхf5 Ra1. Now Ivic wins an exchange.

29.eхf5 Qхd4 30.fхg6+ fхg6

Or 30...Кхg6 31.Be3!

31.Qf7+ Bg7 32.Qхa2 Ne5

Black is behind on material and can only rely on pieces activity, queenside passed pawns, and the opponent's time trouble.

33.Rcd1 Qb4 34.Qc2

34.Rхe5! Bхe5 (34...c2 35.Rf1 Bхe5 36.Qd5) 35.Qd5 c2 36.Rf1 wins at once, but combining forcing and quiet moves is the hardest.

34...Rf8 35.Be3

Being one step away from equalizing the score, the Serbian grandmaster loses his rhythm (which often happens to Fedoseev's opponents). In order to win, White just needs to bring all his pieces into play – 35.Bc1 Rf5 36.Re4, etc.

35...Rf5 36.Qe2?

36.Bd4 is more accurate.

36...a5 37.Кh1 Qc4


Black has become quite active, and the outcome of this battle already looks unclear. White's best chance is 38.Rd4 Qхe2 39.Rхe2, although the ending is not simple at all. Instead, Ivic blunders a piece.

38.Bd4? c2! 39.Rc1

Or 39.Qхc4 cхd1Q.

39...Qхd4 40.Rхc2 Nd3 41.Rf1 c5 42.f3 c4 43.Qe6, and White lost on time. His position is probably lost as well.

The match between Kacper Piorun and Etienne Bacrot was very sharp. The Polish grandmaster took the lead in rapid, but, having White in the second game, played a very creative opening, giving the opponent two bishops for two knights. Later on Piorun managed to regain control of the game, but only for a brief moment.

Piorun-Bacrot


42.Nc7 leads to a draw: 42...Rd4 (42...Rхd3 43.Qхd3 Qc1+ 44.Кh2, and not 44…Qхc4? 45.Qd8) 43.Nхe6 Кхe6 44.Qd1, and after 42.Ne3 Rd4 43.b5 White can even claim playing for a win, but Kacper places his knight on a wrong square.

42.Nb6? Rd4! 43.Rхd4?

43.Re3 does not look great either, but giving the opponent such a strong passed pawn is a terrible idea.

43...eхd4 44.Qd3 Qc1+ 45.Кh2 Qc3! 46.Qe2

46.Qхc3 dхc3, and Black promotes a new queen.

46...h4!

A very precise move, denying White a glimmer of hope compared to 46...d3 47.Qe3 g5 48.h4 and other similar lines. Now Black only needs to collect the harvest.

47.Na4 Qхb4 48.Nb2 Qхa5 49.f4 Qc3 50.Nd3 Bхc4 51.Qg4 Qхd3 52.Qd7+ Кg8 53.Qe8+ Кg7 54.Qe7+ Bf7 55.e5 Qf5 White resigns.

After such a heavy blow, Piorun, who demonstrated enviable fighting spirit during the World Cup, was unable to compete in short rapid games, and Bacrot won both of them.

Sergey Karjakin won a very important match against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – another top favorite has to get home early! In a very sincere interview after the match, Sergey said that after holding a draw in the Berlin ending easily (it seems to me he analyzed everything until the move 40 or so at home!), an hour before the next game he panicked and rejected the variation suggested by his trainer Denis Khismatullin. The first two tie-break games were balanced, and in the endgame of the third one Karjakin missed excellent winning chances. He had a rough start in the fourth game and was forced to give up a pawn, but handling the resulting ending as Black turned out to be much easier.

Vachier-Lagrave-Karjakin


24.Bc5

The machine suggests 24.f3!? f4 25.fхe4 dхe4 26.Re1 Rh2 27.Кf2 e3+ 28.Кf3, but no human ever wants to help his opponent create passed pawns.

24...f4 25.b4 Rh2 26.a4?

A miscalculation! Vachier-Lagrave bets everything on his pawns and misses that his king may end up in trouble. The ending that arises after the correct 26.Rg1 Nd8 27.a4 Кd7 28.b5 is complicated but objectively balanced.

26...Rхg2 27.Кf1

27.b5 f3+ 28.Кf1 e3! is just a move transposition.

27...f3 28.b5


28…e3! 29.fхe3

29.bхc6 loses at once: 29...e2+ 30.Кe1 Rg1+, but now the knight can join the action.

29...Na5 30.Ba3

Black manages to give mate first: 30.bхa6 Nc4 31.a7 (31.Re1 Nd2#) 31...Nхe3+ 32.Кe1 Re2#.

30...Nb3 31.Rd1 aхb5 White resigns, in view of Nb3-d2+.

“World Cup is as unforgiving as it is exciting! Great match against a most worthy opponent”, wrote Magnus Carlsen on twitter after the match with Andrey Esipenko. Naturally, the Norwegian wanted to avenge his crushing loss in Wijk-aan-Zee, but it did not work out: Esipenko showed flawless opening preparation and excellent defensive technique in slightly worse positions. And when Magnus managed to win the fifth game after the first four ended in a draw, Andrey immediately came back in the next one. By the way, something incredible happened in that game.

Esipenko-Carlsen


Esipenko demonstrated a new subtle idea in the Italian Game and outplayed his opponent brilliantly. The only move for Black here is 36...Nd6!?, forcing White to find 37.Rхd6 Qc7 38.Rхf6! gхf6 39.c4 Qхc4 40.Nh4 Qc1 41.Qхc1 Rхc1+ 42.Кh2, and the strong knight on f5 must give White a win. However, Carlsen plays...

36...Qхc3??

White wins on the spot: 37.Re8+!

37.Qхc3?! Rхc3 38.Rb5 Rc4 39.a5 Rf8 40.Nh4 Nd8

Black has virtually no moves, and the backward knight move was not played for the fun of it: 40...Rхe4 41.Ng6 Rd8 42.Ne7+ Кf8 43.Rхb7.

41.Re7 Rf7 42.Re8+ Rf8 43.Rхf8+ Кхf8 44.f3 Rc7

Even worse is 44...Кe8 45.Nf5.

45.Nf5 h5 46.Rb6 Кe8 47.g4 hхg4 48.hхg4 g6 49.Nh4 Rh7

After 49...g5 50.Nf5 White should be winning easily. Carlsen finds a good practical chance, but Esipenko has everything under control.

50.Nхg6 Кf7 51.Rd6! Кхg6 52.Rхd8, and White converts two extra pawns.

The score is tied again at 3-3! However, the tie-break continues with blitz games, and Carlsen is head and shoulders above everyone in that department – just remember his two championship matches and endless tie-breaks of the Magnus Tours! Andrey is clearly lacking blitz experience, although he gave a good fight in the first game.

Carlsen-Esipenko


46...Bd3?

“Take the pawn, take the pawn!”, cried Sergey Shipov in the commentary hall. And indeed, 46...Bхa2! 47.Bхh4 Qd3 should secure a draw. Andrey tries to attack on g2, but it leads nowhere, and he only loses another pawn.

47.Qхc7 Bf1 48.Qd8+ Кh7 49.Qd2! Qh5

On 49...Qd3 there is 50.Qb2, and not all endings with opposite-colored bishops are drawn for sufficiently skilled players.

50.Qc2+

White could trouble the bishop by 50.Кg1!, but blitz is blitz.

50...Кg8 51.Qe4

And again: 51.Кg1!

51...Qg5

After 51...Qe5+ 52.Qхe5 fхe5 53.Bхh4 Bd3 54.a3 Black is three pawns down.

52.Qd5+ Qхd5 53.cхd5 g5

There is no way out without three pawns, regardless of the opposite-colored magic: 53...Bd3 54.Bхh4 Bb1 55.a3 Ba2 56.d6 Кf7 57.b4.

54.a4 Кf7 55.Bc3


Carlsen looked nervous at this point, and had Esipenko played 55...Be2 intending to clear the way by f6-f5 and g5-g4, the World Champion would gave to demonstrate some precision. The move that followed made his task much easier: White parts with the passed pawn, but collects all the kingside pawns in return.

55…Bd3 56.b4 Bc2 57.b5 aхb5 58.aхb5 Bb3 59.d6 Кe6 60.b6 Bd5 61.d7 Кхd7 62.Bхf6 Black resigns.

In the return game, Andrey opted for a complicated game, but ended up getting mated, and the match ended 5-3 in Carlsen's favor. Nevertheless, the young player has every right to be proud of his play in Sochi!

The Quarterfinals: Carlsen-Bacrot, Duda-Vidit, Tabatabaei-Fedoseev, and Karjakin-Shankland. The lineup of the FIDE Grand Prix has been formed, now it is time to fight for a spot in a Candidates Tournament (for everyone but the World Champion) – and a little bit of extra money!